Universal Music Says Soundgarden Is Fabricating Damages from the 2008 Fire

Earlier this week, lawyers for Universal Music Group (UMG) sought the immediate dismissal a $100 million lawsuit stemming from the devastating 2008 Universal Studios fire.

One UMG’s lawyers specifically disputed claims made by Soundgarden, which is one the last remaining litigants.  The band says that UMG never informed them about the status their master recordings.

Scott Edelman, who is an attorney for UMG, provided written evidence in the form email correspondences that directly contradict Soundgarden’s claims. He says that the emails categorically attest that the company, more than 4 years ago, had told the group that the fire had destroyed some their master recordings. This includes recordings the band’s 1991 album Badmotorfinger.

Despite the loss, the company insists that it can still issue a remastered release this album though the use “a digital audio tape safety copy.”

Edelman further stated that UMG currently possesses around 1,300 musical assets relating to Soundgarden and that about 20 them were damaged by the fire. He also stated that none the damaged recordings were multitrack masters.

The fire is said to have destroyed around 500,000 master recordings, including those by Billie Holiday and Nirvana. It occurred in a Los Angeles building that NBC rented to UMG.  The artists who filed suit against UMG claim that the company did not take sufficient steps to protect the recordings, nor did they properly communicate the extent the loss to the artists who were affected.

Apart from Soundgarden, only a few artists are continuing to pursue the lawsuit against UMG. This includes the estates Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty, along with Steve Earle. Courtney Love and Hole recently removed themselves from the suit after it was determined that their masters had not been lost in the fire.

UMG has further provided evidence that the other remaining artists in the suit did not lose masters in the fire, either.